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Hanging in Collin Co.

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1 Hanging in Collin Co. on Mon May 31, 2010 7:12 pm

Posted on Texas Civilian Yahoo list June 2009 by Glenda Mounger

June 3, 1864
"From the Tyler Reporter."
On last Tuesday the enrolling officers of Van Zandt and Henderson counties brought to this place a bunch of men, said to be deserters, absentees and jayhawkers. They were turned over to the proper authorities here on Wednesday, and a portion of them sent to the Camp of Instruction. Four of them, viz: Jas. L. Reed, J. E. Holcomb, J. M. MacReynolds and Jeff. Davis, were said to be jay-hawkers, and had been followed here by fifty or sixty citizens of Van Zandt, Kaufman and Henderson counties, who had first arrested them, and who demanded that they should be turned over to them.

The four prisoners were kept under a guard of regular troops through the day, until near night, when the citizens above mentioned renewed their demand, took the prisoners from the guard, and having marched them about three quarters of a mile from town, hung three of them. The other, Jeff Davis, was temporarily released as we understand because there was some showing made that he had recently been in the army in Louisiana, and because it did not very plainly appear that he had been associated with the others. Among the citizens who took part in the arrest and execution of these men, we noticed many of the best and most substantial men of the counties above named, and they seemed to understand clearly and fully what they were doing. They were at least determined in their course.

We feel it our duty to say, that as a general thing, we are opposed to anything like mob-law. It is a tremendous and dangerous instrument. But the question in this case must be, whether these citizens, who had ample time for reflection and judgment, can be called a mob? We think not. The civil laws are now comparatively inoperative and it is difficult to arrive at justice in such cases through the courts. The country must be protected and defended against lawless and bad men, and the good citizens of the country must do it. But in performing this solemn and important duty men cannot be too cautious. They should know the facts upon which they act; there should not be left room for reasonable doubt. We repeat that, in this case, we believe the citizens were satisfied.

There is a thought however, to which we demure. It is said that as the citizens who executed these men were on their way home, they reported that the citizens of this place and vicinity took Reed & Co. and hung them. We simply say, if such a report has gone out, it is false. Several citizens here were present and witnessed the execution, but we think not one of them assisted in it. Simply because they thought the case properly belonged to the citizens of the counties where these men had committed depredations. We say further, that the citizens of Smith county will hang jayhawkers, and will endorse the citizens of other counties in doing so, whenever they are caught, but they want credit for no more than they do. We hope there is a mistake about our neighbors having put out such a report, but repeat, that if so, it is erroneous."

James Monroe McReynolds
Submitted by Kathey Hunt

Excitement at Tyler
~ Three men Hanged ~

[The letter from which the following extracts are taken was not written for publication, but knowing the writer as we do, we take the liberty of publishing such parts as are of interest to the public. We know the writer to be a young gentleman of veracity. He is on duty at Tyler.-Editor Quid Nunc.]

Capt. J. R. Burnet, My dear friend,
On yesterday evening, about sunset, were hanged; half a mile from this place; three men, supposed to be jayhawkers, and of which there is but little doubt. They were evidently bad men, to say the least of it, and deserved the fate that befell them. One of them, the leader of the party, Jim Reed, was Sheriff of Collin county; another, J M McReynolds, or McRunnels, and the third rather an elderly man, claims he was Chief Justice by name of Holcombe.

The charges against these outlaws were, as I understand the matter, the entering of a house of an old lady living Van Zandt county, grossly insulting and robbing her of $800 in specie, and about $1900 in Confederate notes. They all plead not guilty to the last moment-making no confessions, Reed said that he had been burned out in his county by men much worse than he was accused of being, and forced to move his family, a wife and seven children, to his mother-in-law's in Van Zandt county. It seems that the evidence against them was not of the most convicting nature, as we could get it here; but the party that brought them in were sufficiently satisfied of their guilt. The old lady, whose house was broken open and robbed, identified and swore to their being the men. Reed had in his pocket, at the time of his arrest, papers from Gen. McCulloch passing him to some command in Arkansas or Louisiana, he, as he stated, preferring to be in the army rather than out, exposed as he was. I learn that he carried a company in the service from his county at the commencement of the war; in fact, no one disputed it that I heard. The worst feature of the affair in this case is, that he served a term of three years in the penitentiary of Missouri before coming to Texas. This he denied, as well as ever having been in Missouri.

I forgot to mention that a young fellow by the name of Davis was brought in by these persons from Vanzandt, and condemned, and carried out to be executed with the others, but fortunately, he was to be last hanged, which circumstance saved his life. As they had but one rope, they could hang but one at a time, and had to wait till he was dead. just as they were fixing to execute Davis, a gentleman came up who recognized him as being a member of his command, and said that he had always made a good soldier. He was, of course, released, and is now at Camp Ford. McReynolds, or McRunnels, has a son out at camp, who is now offering any price for a wagon to carry his father's body home, at Rockwall, Kaufman county.

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